How do you know if you have a drinking problem? What makes a person an alcoholic? Is there a difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism? Is alcohol a drug?
If you’ve considered any of these questions concerning your own drinking, you might have a problem. Alcohol abuse can range from mild to severe. Left unchecked it can turn into alcoholism and dependence. However, a new term has encompassed any kind of misuse of alcohol.
What is AUD?
Previously known as alcoholism or alcohol abuse, Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a health condition diagnosed by a healthcare professional. To determine its presence, they look at the severity of a person’s drinking (either mild, moderate, or severe) to determine if they have such a condition. Health care professionals also observe the severity of negative patterns and outcomes of a person’s drinking that cause stress or harm.
AUD can cause lasting changes in the brain that can make one vulnerable to relapse. It is also the most common co-occurring substance use disorder in dual diagnosis. National data reports that nearly one-third of people attending treatment for AUD also suffer from a separate mental disorder such as anxiety, depression, etc. Treatment of co-occurrence cases like those with anxiety can be difficult. However, when the AUD is treated correctly, many co-occurring symptoms also decrease.
Do I have AUD?
There are several red flags that indicate AUD. Mild alcohol abuse can be overlooked, but over time it can become serious and out of control. Alcoholics tend to hide the severity of their drinking from loved ones by drinking alone or isolating themselves. The fact is, if you are concerned about your alcohol abuse, you might have a problem. Remember, Alcohol Use Disorder is treatable, but it must first be diagnosed.
Ask yourself: “In the past year have I….”
- Tried to cut down or stop drinking, but couldn’t?
- Ended up drinking more than I wanted?
- Had to drink much more than usual to feel the effect?
- Experienced strong, uncontrollable cravings to drink?
- Continued to drink despite negative consequences (i.e. family, work, or legal trouble)?
- Experienced severe withdrawal symptoms when I stopped drinking?
- Continued to drink even though it made me anxious or depressed?
- More than once got into situations that increased my likelihood of getting hurt?
- Blacked out or lost my memory after drinking?
Unfortunately, denial is a hallmark of addiction. If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you likely abuse alcohol and should seek treatment.
The good news about AUD is it’s treatable. Medication-assisted treatment, therapy and counseling by an addiction specialist can be very beneficial. Getting treatment at the early signs of a problem can greatly increase your success and prevent relapse.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, contact Rock Recovery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida for advice on next steps. Call our 24-hour helpline or chat live with us now.
Mayo Clinic: Alcohol Use Disorder